Newcastle’s Vurnon Anita reacts to his stunning goal against Southend

Vurnon Anita
Vurnon Anita
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Vurnon Anita is desperate to play his way into Rafa Benitez’s starting XI for Newcastle United’s season-opener against Fulham.

The midfielder scored in last night’s 2-0 win over Southend United at Roots Hall.

Anita opened the scoring early in the second half with a 20-yard effort after seizing on a loose ball.

And fellow midfielder Yoan Gouffran netted after coming off the bench in the club’s penultimate pre-season friendly.

Anita has been in and out of the team during his four years at St James’s Park, and the 27-year-old, handed a start on the right side of midfield, feels his versatility will be his strength this season.

Newcastle kick off their season against Fulham at Craven Cottage a week on Friday.

It was nice to play in that position, and nice to score the goal.

Rafa Benitez

“It’s good for the team to have won, although there are still things we have to improve,” said the Holland international.

“It was nice to play in that position, and nice to score the goal.

“I saw the chance was available, and thankfully I took it. I was a bit more advanced down the right-hand side than usual, but it was nice to be able to show that I can play in that role.”

United manager Benitez fielded Anita on the right side of midfield in the absence through injury of summer signing Matt Ritchie.

Asked about Anita’s strike, he said: “I’m really pleased. We were talking about pressing, and we regained (the ball) and he scored.

“It was good, and after a good goal from Gouffran.

“It was also good for the team. It was another clean sheet. We conceded maybe one or two chances, not too many. Again, I would say in the Championship you have to concede even less.”